County software system still not ready

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County officials say they hope to start using a new building inspections and zoning program in October.

The county has experienced delays in trying to bring the new system online since the Board of Supervisors voted in October 2013 to spend about $200,000 on the program and equipment provided by EnerGov. The county also must pay the annual subscription fee of about $50,000. Front Royal also expects to pay about $50,000 per year to use the system.

Warren County Building Official David Beahm provided an update on the initiative to town and county leaders in the Liaison Committee on Thursday.

“The schedule that we’re trying to work with right now – and this is still tentative as long as we stay on schedule with information that we need to have in place – we’re looking at an Oct. 3 go live,” Beahm said. “There are a lot of key pieces to that and we’re working extremely hard to try to make that happen. … EnerGov as well as obviously Warren County and the town of Front Royal want it done so that we can start utilizing the system.”

Departments in Miami and Los Angeles are pleased with the system’s performance, Beahm said.

“The reason that I’ve heard from that is the city of Alexandria is in contract negotiations with EnerGov as well, and the building official and I speak on a daily basis almost because they’re trying to make sure their contract is ironclad,” Beahm said. “Part of the things we’re having some difficulty with right now – how the contract was worded.”

Tyler Technologies purchased EnerGov after the county negotiated its contract, creating some difficulties, Beahm noted.

“Tyler Technologies is a large business; EnerGov is more of a handshake business and unfortunately it’s the bottom line that’s a concern as far as for Tyler,” Beahm said. “Here’s your money. Here’s what you have to spend. How you spend it I don’t care but if you go over you have to go back to the client kind of mentality.”

But Beahm noted that the product is “hands-down better than any of (the) other ones that are out on the market.”

County Administrator Doug Stanley said he has spoken to Kim Fogle, former planning director for Front Royal and now Fauquier County’s community development director, about their experience with the program.

“They had some delays but Kim’s advice was make sure you got all the bugs worked out before you go live,” Stanley said. “Once you switch over and we can’t use the old system … if you have any hiccups and you’re not able to take permits … contractors get upset and homeowners get upset.”

Department staff should expect to process paperwork by hand while the county migrates data from the old system to the new, Beahm said.

Town Manager Steve Burke said Front Royal Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp also is participating in teleconferences and most of the town’s information has been rectified.

The committee also heard updates on the following projects:
• Town officials are awaiting word from state transportation officials that the Virginia Department of Transportation will award additional funds for Leach Run Parkway. The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved an additional $2.5 million for the project at its June meeting. The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority is spearheading the project – a 1.3-mile, divided highway designed to connect state Route 55 East and Happy Creek Road as well as the Swan Farm development, Valley Health’s proposed hospital site and the second county middle school.

The estimated completion date for the project is mid-December and the contractor is trying to make up for time lost as a result of bad weather and site conditions. Parties also are waiting for the Department of Environmental Quality to approve a permit related to the project. The project is about a month behind schedule but officials expect completion by the end of the 2016 construction season.

• Expansion of Front Royal’s wastewater treatment facility remains on schedule for completion in 2017 and recently reached the 50 percent mark, Burke said. Work on the septage receiving facility will likely begin next year.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com